Korean · Language Learning

아재개그: Konglish Edition

If you’re learning Korean you might have come across the word ‘아재개그’ before. It’s basically the equivalent of ‘dad humor’ in English. The ‘개그’ is here the Korean spelling of ‘gag’ like you’ll also see for example in the word ‘개그맨(“gagman”) which means comedian. I’ve come across quite a lot of arguably quite terrible but also funny konglish jokes, so I thought I’d just share some of my favourites with you guys 🙂

Why are the floors of the Korean Space Agency made of doors? So they can practice walking on the 문

How long does it take to eat a 양파? 오년!

Why did the watermelon go to court? To sue 박.

What did Justin Timberlake say when he dropped his rice on the floor? Dirty 밥!

Where does grandpa go to find his date? E-할머니

How big are tissues in Korea? They’re 휴지!

What do you call a cute guy with no ears? 귀없다

I’ll admit some of these are pretty lame, but to be honest most of them made me giggle when I first saw them 😁😅 This kind of stuff brings out my inner dad joker lol

Korean · Language Learning · Personal

Different Languages, Different Personalities?

I was talking to another language learning friend of mine recently and this topic came up. We were talking about some of those subtle changes that happen to your personality when you’re speaking in different languages. It’s something I’ve thought about myself before and I’ve heard various language learners around the internet talk about the same thing before as well.

These changes can of course be due to different factors. One thing is how closely languages are intertwined with their respective cultures and how you generally express yourself about things in a particular culture. Languages are all tied to certain ways of thinking about things and seeing the world.

For example when I speak English I sort of feel like I have to be a bit more expressive in order to actually accurately portray how I’m feeling. In Danish I feel like I can be a bit more subtle about things like that without me seeming like I’m being too serious. Another example is for example with Korean and hierarchy. In Korean you’ve obviously got the different levels of formality that’s very distinctly expressed through different verb endings. I also feel like there are certain topics that I’m more comfortable talking about or discussing in English than I am in Danish (and vice versa). And it’s the same for Korean as well.

Another obvious way in which the language you’re speaking can affect how your personality comes across, is your proficiency in that particular language. If you’re speaking in a language that you aren’t completely fluent in you probably won’t be able to speak with the same confidence and comfort as if you were speaking a language that you are very comfortably fluent in.

Different languages also have different words and expressions that can make it more or less difficult to express certain feelings, ideas or arguments. No matter which language I’m speaking in, including my native Danish, it happens quite often that there are certain expressions I want to use but can’t because they’re in a different language. I can kind of get around this problem for the most part when I’m speaking in Danish because a lot of people here speak English and (to some extent) German. So I often find myself randomly throwing English and German words into my Danish sentences. But I can’t really do that with Korean as much and more generally I can’t do it if I’m not talking to someone else who’s bilingual.

So those are just some of my experiences with this. I’d be really interested to hear about other peoples’ experiences with this as well, so feel free to leave a comment 🙂

Korean · Korean progress · Language Learning · Motivation · Uncategorized

The Intermediate Plateau

So, it’s been a while since I’ve last been blogging. It’s not that I’ve forgotten about my blog or anything, I’ve just had a really hectic quarter these past couple of months. But even if I haven’t quite been able to find the time for blogging, I have kept up with my Korean learning. I actually have a bunch of half-finished blog posts that I just haven’t gotten around to finishing yet. But I finished exams just last Friday and now I have this whole week off from school. Which means time for blogging! Yay! Anyway, on to the actual topic I wanted to talk about.

From what I’ve noticed, it seems that a lot of language learners at some point during their language learning journey hit this sort of plateau once they go from ‘beginner’ and move into being ‘intermediate’. And I feel like I’ve been going through this plateau-like stage as well for these past maybe 6 months? Although it hasn’t felt like a plateau for me as much as it has just felt like my progress has slowed down a lot. And I think there’s a very good reason for that.

When you first start learning a foreign language most of the words, grammar and expressions you learn are most likely going to be some of the most commonly used ones in that particular language. So everything you learn is going to show up quite often. I still remember for example when I first learned the word ‘좋다’ and even just that one word felt like such a jump in my comprehension. But of course as you get more advanced, everything you learn will be words, expressions and grammar that are more specialized. And because of that of course you won’t come across them as frequently and you won’t feel those same jumps in your understanding of the language. So it can be easy to feel like you aren’t making progress at all, or barely at all. And I’ve certainly experienced that too.

But just recently while I was reading Cheese in the Trap (I had myself a nice little 만화-binge a couple of days after finishing exams 😁) I noticed that I didn’t really feel like I was looking up all that many words. And I was thinking back to when I was reading another 만화 (manhwa) over the summer last year that’s about the same level of difficulty as the one I’m currently reading. And I remembered how back then I would have to look up maybe 30, sometimes even more, words each episode and now I look up maybe 5 each episode.

I’ve also noticed with some of the TV-shows I’ve been watching that I’m actually understanding enough of everything that I can follow along with the conversations without necessarily having to look up words (even if I don’t understand every single word). Which I certainly wasn’t able to 6 months ago! So I guess however slow, however incremental your progress becomes as you get better at your target language – it doesn’t actually stop as long as you keep at it. And also, as you learn more you also become able to enjoy your target language more and ‘studying’ doesn’t necessarily have to be as deliberate. Which I think is a pretty nice trade-off 🙂

Korean · Korean Music · Language Learning

Kicking off Christmas with Kpop

This title is actually not very accurate as I’m one of those people that will start listening to Christmas music around late October or early November. But now that it’s actually December I can listen to it without feeling like I’m being overly Christmas-y unnecessarily early ^^’ XD

This year I’ve filled up my usual Christmas playlist with a bunch of Korean Christmas songs. And they’ve definitely helped getting my Christmas spirits up (not that I need help with that per se, haha). I especially really like those where it’s a bunch of different artists from the same company that make a song together. I thought I’d just share my favorite of these types of songs that I’ve had on repeat for the last while:

Here are the lyrics if any of you want to read along:

오늘은 뭔가 좀 다른 기분 Feeling 이젠 때가 된 것 같은 느낌 Love you
하늘에선 마침 눈이 내려 Now it’s falling 뭔가 잘 될 것 같은 예감

하얀 거리마다 행복해 보이는 연인들
니 맘은 어떤지 내 맘과 같은지
우리 시작해볼까

오늘은 괜찮을까요 내 맘이 전해질까요
내리는 하얀 눈처럼 너에게 닿을까요

숨겨왔던 내 맘 전부 고백할게요
바로 오늘 크리스마스이니까

사실 그대도 조금은 기댈 했잖아요
못 이기는 척 웃는 너
그런 니가 사랑스러워

오늘은 괜찮을까요 내 맘이 전해질까요
내리는 하얀 눈처럼 너에게 닿을까요

숨겨왔던 내 맘 전부 고백할게요
바로 오늘 크리스마스이니까
많은 사람들 속에 너만 내 눈에 보여

의상 좋고 머리도 괜찮고 얼굴 상태 나쁘지 않아
오늘만 기다렸단 말야 눈치껏 눈도 내린단 말야
또박또박 연습한 멘트 뚜벅뚜벅 걷는 발걸음이 벌써 네 앞에 도착했어
올해 크리스마스 선물은 나야 귀요미 루돌프 남

오늘이야 메리 크리스마스 조금만 더 용길 낼게
이 순간이 지나버리면 널 놓칠지 몰라

진심이 더 진심처럼 느껴지는 게
바로 오늘 크리스마스이니까

너와 나 영원히 Christmas Love

I hope everyone’s Korean learning is going well and that you, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, have a good December! 😉

Language Learning · Personal

On learning and understanding languages and cultures

So, it hasn’t really been that long, a bit over a year, since I started learning Korean and thus since I started spending quite a significant amount of my spare time on language learning and trying to understand a different culture. So this year has been the first time that I’ve considered this as an actual interest of mine. However, growing up I had different phases of being interested in different cultures and countries as well. And despite growing up in an overall quite a homogeneous society I did actually grow up in a fairly diverse environment.

So Today I’d just like to talk a bit about my experiences with that. Both some things that I learned growing up and some things from my Korean learning journey. And just why I think learning about and being exposed do different cultures is super awesome and enriching and also really important.

The primary school that I went to was maybe about 50/50 native/foreign students and there were over 40 different languages spoken among the students there. Most of the students there who weren’t ethnically Danish were usually from around the Middle East and some of the surrounding countries. Every year we had this thing called something along the lines of ‘international annual celebration’ (rough translation) where the parents of a lot of the foreign students would be responsible for making all the food and there were little stands with food from all over the world. In preparation for this ‘annual celebration’ each grade had to spend a few weeks learning about some country (learn their culture, food, politics etc.).

I remember for example one year our school had invited two guys from somewhere around central Africa (I can’t remember the exact country). They taught us some of their traditional songs and dances. To this day I can still remember one of the songs actually. They also introduced us to a particular type of traditional theater from their country and we created our own piece in the style of this type of theater, which we then performed for our parents.

So all of this really had a big impact on me to become interested in learning about different places and different ways of life. I remember becoming particularly interested in the Arabic speaking world from all of these experiences. I was especially really interested in Egypt for a while. There was one time we had to make a presentation in class of a country of our choosing. It was only supposed to be 15 minutes long, but because my teacher didn’t stop me I ended up blabbing on for a good 45 minutes about Egypt.

When I then later started to learn English and got access to the internet, that was when I realized the role that languages play in learning about people from around the world. I still remember very clearly the first time I was talking to someone from a different country through the internet. It was a girl from Ireland and we were talking about our lives in our respective countries. I still remember how completely fascinated I was by being able to connect with someone from a completely different country just by a few clicks of a mouse and learning a bit of English. That was also the time that I decided that I wanted to become really good at English. Because I wanted to be able to connect with the world outside of just the ‘Scandinavian bubble’ that I grew up in.

Since I’ve started studying other languages than English I’ve also experienced that like instant connection you get with someone if you speak as a foreigner to them in their native language. Both with German and Korean, people have just been really excited that I’ve learnt some of their language. And I’ve experienced the same if I’ve seen people speak Danish as a foreign language as well. I remember seeing a video that went around on Facebook last year of a young girl refugee that had only been learning Danish for a few months and she spoke incredibly well considering how long she’d been learning.

I feel like all of these experiences, and especially learning languages, have helped me immensely to be able to respect, accept and appreciate different cultures. I think that particularly in the society that we live in Today with police brutalities and Islamophobia and things like that, the world could use some more respect, acceptance and tolerance. And it’s not that I think learning languages will necessarily fix all of this, but I think that learning a little bit about our neighbors is a step in the right direction.

Because by learning languages and learning about cultures that are different from your own, you begin to notice not just the things that make us all different from each other, but also what things are the same. All the things that are just fundamentally human things. How you can share similar visions and experiences and emotions as someone from a completely different country. And for me at least, having experiences like this makes learning a new language so, so rewarding and worth all the time and effort that it takes to learn a new language.

Korean · Language Learning · Study Techniques

Using the Korean you already know

Back when I had English classes in primary school I remember we would sometimes do this exercise where we had to describe some English word using only English. So we were all given cards with some English word on it and had to explain which word it was in English without using the word itself. So for example if you got ‘nightmare’ you could say ‘bad dream’ or ‘scary dream’. Something like that. By doing this we learned how to better have a conversation using only English even if our vocabulary was sometimes lacking a bit in some areas.

Because of course when you’re having a conversation in a foreign language you’ll sometimes have words that you don’t know. And if you have to look up words too often it can sort of feel like the conversation loses its ‘flow’. And you might also not always have a dictionary on hand either. So I really think this technique of expressing a word you want to say, but don’t know, through other words you already know can be really helpful.

Of course this means that you’ll probably sound a bit less eloquent than if you actually knew the word you wanted to use. And it can feel kind of frustrating that you aren’t able to express yourself properly. Like with the nightmare example, saying ‘bad dream’ sounds more like something a kid would say. I guess that’s just one one those frustrating but unavoidable parts of the language learning process.

But anyway, I just wanted to share this little tip with you guys since it’s definitely helped me on my language learning journey. And you’d actually be surprised at how advanced concepts you can actually describe using quite limited vocabulary 🙂

Korean · Korean Resources · Korean Variety Shows · Language Learning

The Joy of Korean TV Programs

When I first embarked on learning Korean, of course one of the first things I did was to try and find some entertainment in Korean that I’d enjoy. Since then there are different comedy and variety shows that I’ve come to really enjoy. To be honest in the beginning I found all the sound effects and the text on the screen that sort of dramatizes people’s reactions and things like that to be a bit odd. But it’s kind of grown on me quite a lot by now and I’ve come to appreciate a lot of the humor in them and things like that.

But other than being just some good entertainment, I wanted to talk about them i regard to language learning too. Because I think there are a lot of TV programs that are really awesome to use for learning Korean. And here’s why:

  1. (Partial) subtitles

    Out of the shows I’ve watched so far only a couple didn’t have subtitles. Some have almost full subtitles and others just have subtitles that shortly summarize what’s being said. So you can read along while listening so you can connect the written words with what’s being said. It also makes it much, much easier to look up words that you don’t know because you can see the spelling. So it’s also really good for learning new vocabulary.
    There is usually also often a lot of words of the screen of whatever emotion the person on the screen seems to be feeling. So you can also see how the feeling of being in a particular situation, would be described in Korean.

  2. Natural language

    These sorts of shows are mostly unscripted and it’s just people speaking together more or less how they normally would. As opposed to for example movies and dramas. In those it’s really just written Korean being said aloud. And from what I’ve read there’s a big-ish gap between written and spoken Korean (compared to certain other languages at least).
    And I don’t mean by this that people shouldn’t watch dramas and movies. Of course not. I’m totally an advocate of exposing yourself to various ‘types’ of languages within a given language (i.e. also learning older Korean, more academic Korean etc.) But if you want to learn things that you can use right away, these sorts of shows are really good for that.

  3. Current expressions and slang

    I guess this point ties into the former somewhat, but I just want to elaborate a bit on a couple of things. The expressions, words and slang that are being used in these shows are going to be things that generally people use right now. These are the sorts of things that perhaps you can’t always learn as easily if you aren’t living in Korea (which I’m not). So I think variety shows and the like are also really awesome for that.